Of all the places we visited on our 9-month journey around the world, both of us feel Santorini deserves to be on our top 10 list. You’ve seen the iconic pictures — awe-inspiring how they built the city into the mountain — and it’s everything you have ever imagined. Actually, even more so for Natasha – she ranked Santorini as her top experience during our world sabbatical.
The moment your ship arrives in Mykonos, you’ll notice white buildings everywhere with the blue roofs that provide the backdrop you were expecting about the Greek islands. It’s amazing to experience the island – even the streets are white to help keep the buildings cool and reflect the sun. Plus, there are no cars on the narrow streets, making it great for young kids, who can run around as you explore.
Entering the port of Katakolon, you’ll have the option to travel 4 hours to Athens or an hour to Olympia. Both options are exceptional, as they ooze history at every turn. When traveling with a younger child, however, we recommend the closer Olympia, which is home to the original Olympic Games. Ancient Olympia is an archeological site with more than 70 structures from ancient Greece, dating back to 4,000 years AD. It’s truly impressive, and there are tons of open spaces for your child to run and play safely.
Cruises today are gearing more toward families, offering an array of activities, accommodations and services to appeal to parents. With our top tips for traveling with toddlers on a cruise, you maximize your vacation when taking a cruise with your kids. The first tip is to check for the minimum age requirement for traveling with kids. Most start with a minimum age of 6 months, so before you plan a cruise vacation, review each cruise line’s age requirements. From there, pick your destination and you’ll find ships able to make kids happy, especially toddlers and young kids who will be excited by all the offerings on the ship, as well as your excursions on land.
Why The 2 Idiots Recommend exploring Livorno and Pisa
When we visited Pisa, it was through a Mediterranean cruise – the best of the three cruises we took when we went around the world with our son. Having wanted to see the Tower of Pisa since she was a child, Natasha was especially excited about the visit, but we discovered the port is actually in the city of Livorno and that you’ll need to travel inland to find Pisa. It’s a place everyone should see and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but we were surprised to discover Pisa isn’t much a city to visit; it’s truly just a square for tourists. However, we still enjoyed our day in Pisa, with some extra time to wander in Livorno, a very pretty town. Where Pisa is touristy, Livorno is not. Just as we like it!
Just because you are a passenger on a cruise ship does not mean you have to follow the hordes of passengers who disembark to embark on a cruise excursion. Families have the freedom to do exactly what they want in every port – including staying on the ship, should you so choose. Personally, after taking numerous cruises, we learned quickly we would rather do our own thing in port. (In fact, we even have an article on the 6 Reasons to NOT Take a Cruise Excursion.) To us, visiting a place and trying local foods, meeting local people and seeing local neighborhoods enriches a trip and makes any planning worth it. We have a few simple tips to keep in mind when setting off on your own – trust us, we learned the hard way!
When traveling by cruise, you may feel like the cruise ship has everything under the sun to keep you entertained and show you the world. While that may be true on the ship, it’s when you get on land that they lack the same oomph. Excursions are run by local guides and work on a partnership level with cruise lines. You can trust they have been reviewed and they will get you back to the ship on time, but they don’t give you a chance to explore and discover a new port stop as you would if you were to arrive by plane or train.
While on a Mediterranean cruise, one of the port stops will be Marseille. We imagined a coastal French city to be romantically nautical, and it was exactly as we pictured: sailboats and ships, gorgeous waterfront views, and to-die-for seafood.
WHY THE 2 IDIOTS RECOMMEND DRIVING THROUGH SOUTHERN SPAIN?
Spain is our favorite country, and having fallen in love with Barcelona, we fell even more in love with Spain after driving along its southern coastline. Had we not tried a road trip, we would have missed small towns that are filled with Roman ruins and friendly people, amazing seafood and wine, and a beautiful countryside filled with sunshine — not to mention an area covered in such a large expanse of white greenhouses that it can be seen from space (more on that later)! We did a lot of research planning our trip, trying to pick stops that were unique and would offer a different perspective on Spain. Here’s where to go and what to see when traveling in Southern Spain.
It took us a few months during our 9-month trip around the world with our 2-year-old son to brave a walking tour with him. We had been too nervous to try a walking tour, but after taking our first tour – and surviving – we discovered we had been missing out. From that moment on, at practically every new city we visited, from Buenos Aires to Rome to Lima to Barcelona, we signed up for walking tours with our son.